(This writing was written with this blob post http://thejsj.com/2011/turning-music-into-color/)


After a while of thinking and reflecting, the only thing I could really find in common between colour and music is that both share a written language. This language is, of course, a mere translation of the thing-in-itself. A very few amount of people can hear the music from reading it, and very few people can see a color just by seeing it’s RGB, CMYK or Pantone code. Yet, there are representations and translations of this into a language, a system.

The fact that there is a language, then, lends itself to the translation of this information from one form into the other. If there is a language, a system or a code it can be translate. In the same way we can translate English into Mandarin, we can translate English into CMYK. In the same way we can translate Russian into French, we can translate color codes into music. Every translation is possible, if there is a language, a system, or a code.

The famous saying goes ‘Tradurre e tradire’(Translation is betrayal). In the same way no translation is ever completely true for human languages, the same holds true for translating music into colour. It will never be completely accurate, in the same way a translation, even from similar languages like Spanish/Portuguese and Dutch/German, will never be completely precise. Yet, people keep on translating, even if it is still not always accurate. Why do we limit ourselves to human communication? Translation is a form of creation in itself, and should be embraced.

The interesting part about all this is that there is now a universal language, binary code. The computer age has brought upon us the translation of every single piece of information into 0’s and 1’s. The computer age has turned music, color, human language, images, videos, time… into binary code. If there is a new universal language, why do we still hold on to the impossibility of translation? This translation into binary code is always limited and is always a sort of betrayal. Seeing the Mona Lisa at the Louvre is not the same as seeing it through a computer screen, yet that doesn’t stop us from doing it. Hearing Beethoven’s Symphony no. 5 played in an .mp3 is not the same as hearing it played by the New York Orchestra at the Carnegie Hall, yet we still listen to it through our Ipod. We also translate this information into different formats (.mp3 to .ogg, .jpeg to .png) on a daily basis.

The next step in these translations it the translation of information into, not just different formats, but different types of information. The digital realm permits a seamless translation from music to colour, words to image, and video to Mandarin. These are all possibilities that might result in a beautiful treason.